Preparing for Parent Teacher Conferences

Preparing for Parent Teacher Conferences

Parent-teacher conferences can often feel rushed and like a waste of time. You may leave feeling like you barely learned anything about how your child is doing. 

Or maybe you’ve had the opposite experience—a parent-teacher conference where the teacher brought up something big that surprised you, but then there wasn’t nearly enough time to discuss it.

Typically, most conferences will be only for 5 minutes in secondary school, but may be 15 minutes in primary school. Preparation is the key to getting the information you need in a short time period. It is best that you have questions for the teacher, rather then waiting for them to provide you with information. Think about what is most important to you and have 3 questions prepared. For example:

In my child completing all the assigned homework tasks on time and to what standard are they completed? Do you see/mark all their homework and how do you record their progress with homework?

Many students will say that they completed their homework at school. This may be true but it may have been completed in a rushed manner at lunchime, at the end of a lesson or whilst waiting to be picked up from school. The homework may therefore be incomplete or poorly completed with little understanding. The school report will state that homework is always completed but is the teacher basing this on major assignments only and not viewing daily homework?  A student's effort with homework may be indicitive of issues with the content or organisation strategies so understanding what is going on her may be vital. 

Does my child complete class-based work in a timely manner and to the best of their ability?

Students may be "going through the motions" in class and not really learning. This may be because they are struggling with the concepts and afraid to ask for help, are disengaged or distracted. If distracted, why? What can be done about that?

The most important question to ask is:

WHY do you think my child is doing this?

The answer to this question may lead to developing a better understanding of your child's performance at school and to developing some strategies, together with the teacher, to assist your child improve their performance. 

Another great idea is to send an email to the teacher prior to the conferrence that mentions which topics you want to discuss. 

If you run out of time and have more to discuss, ask to make another appointment. This can just be a phone conversation or even an email. 

For further information, you might like to refer to:

PT Conference Action Plan